Sponsored by: Archaeological Institute of America
In 508/7 B.C.E., after years of stasis and uncertainty, the city of Athens was rocked by the passage of a series of reforms. The result was the creation of what has come to be known as the world’s first democracy. Exactly how the Athenians did this – how they implemented the reforms and how the new political regime began to flourish so rapidly – is still a fundamental question 2,500 years later. In this lecture, I provide a novel answer to these questions by attending to the built environment broadly, and monumental architecture specifically. Interpreting the nature of the fledgling democracy from a material standpoint, I approach the questions and problems about the early political system through the lens of buildings.
The focus on monumental structures erected during this particular time period demonstrates how the built environment worked to facilitate the functioning of the nascent political regime. Architecture, in this formulation, both reflected and contributed to the success of the young democratic state. Throughout this lecture, I draw attention to a pivotal period of Athenian political history through the built environment, thereby exposing the richness of the material record and illustrating how it participated in the creation of a new democratic Athenian identity.
Short bibliography and/or website on lecture topic: